“They Looked Better on Facebook” Identity & Pecha Kucha

A Walk Through A Slide

My part of the Pecha Kucha project was how technology condones the false beliefs of beauty. The false beliefs of beauty are ones that technology alters and projects to us, but it is not reality. I used celebrities everyone would know for my examples because I wanted to prove that technology and the media can alter and edit who we look up to (celebrities) and almost makes us want to look like them. Have you ever read in a magazine how to get “Kim Kardashian’s red carpet makeup at home?” or “Supermodel body workout! Lose 5 inches in a week with this workout?” Then you will see photos of beautiful, toned celebrities and models we are supposed to envy and want to be; yet what isn’t in the article is that most models in the industry are not plain folks like us. These model’s bodies are photoshopped to extreme portions or hiding the fact that eating disorders are prevalent in the industry. Skin lightening was also a topic I spoke about in my presentation. I believe the slide with Beyonce on two different covers of Glamour in two different countries shows that beauty can be digitally altered in order to please the magazine’s client base. The picture I chose that is the most striking is the one below:

 Image

 

This slide builds on the idea that just as easy as bodies can be photoshopped; skin color can be photoshopped and altered just as easily thanks to technology. According to the video “Identity 2.0” Identity is reputation also known as what others say about you. Many people may “identify” which Beyonce as she has a reputation of being a very successful artist, wife, mother, and businesswomen. People may “identify” which Beyonce because of physical appearances as well such as skin color, stature, or personal style are just some examples. In the case of the photo, one country wanted their readers to “identify” with Beyonce with lighter, digitally altered skin while the other country wanted their readers to “identify” with Beyonce’s darker skin. My point here is that photos can be altered to identify to whom they are trying to sell or relate to. The reality is, we may never get a chance to actually see these celebrities or models in person. Our only outlet is through digital media and magazines to get a feel of what they look like and based on that we create assumptions. If I were to change the slide, I would have included a picture of Beyonce in more of a paparazzi like pose in addition to the one above to show how digitally altered these photos are.

What I learned about my blog topic:

Since my group’s blog had the theme of technology and identity; I have learned a lot about how technology can alter our opinions on what is beautiful and acceptable. In today’s world, I hear a lot about cyber-bullying and how so many young girls get eating disorders because Americans have a distorted image of beauty. In using the interactive application “We Feel Fine”, I could really see how women young and old across the control feel about themselves whether it be positive or negative. The internet is like a gateway to finding out what is “acceptable” in our society. I have learned that no one should tell you what is acceptable rather than you must decide what is acceptable and not let that go. If you let technology and the media decide for you than you will fall into a state that is not reality but rather lack of self-awareness. As young adults, we know who we are and what we are capable of doing. We know (most of the time) what is and is not acceptable and are capable of making mature decisions. As children younger and younger begin to use the internet and start to see these false beliefs of beauty, that is when the problem begins. Young girls thinking they are fat when they are simply just “growing up”. I know I felt that way when I was young and I am sure many of you did as well. Now as adults, we realize that as we grow up we were heavily influenced by others around us. For example, the other night the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show was on. Then I go on Instagram and see pictures of the models with captions written by my followers such as “not eating for a week”. Whether as a joke or in seriousness, young girls look up to these people. It creates a sense of a distorted body image that can ruin young girl’s lives.

The article by the New York Times about Target and how they find ways to identify with and attract their customers we read the other day makes me realize that our identities are out there in the world and we don’t even know it. Target knows about us and our spending habits and other stores will continue that trend for higher revenue. I have learned that social media really allows us to identity or not identity with others around us. I have learned that video games can give those a sense of identity as see in the article “Becoming Screen literate”. Finally, I have learned the internet will only try to virtually identify with us for years to come. This module opened my eyes to the immense changes in technology over the years and what is to come is surely unknown. 

How Target Finds their Target Customers

When I first read the New York Times article by Charles Duhigg about the excessive research mega retailer Target completes on it’s customers, I was a bit surprised. Although I thought of the irony as Target’s logo is a bulls-eye as they certainly know how to nab their ideal consumers. I love Target and I can rarely go in there to just buy the item I initially went to purchase. They have that awesome dollar area in the entrance of the store filled with fun goodies like cheap holiday decorations, snacks, candy, teaching supplies, stocking stuffers, and pretty much everything that you don’t “need” but it’s just too cute and cheap to pass up. Before I know it, my basket is full of this stuff before i have even actually entered the store to make the purchase I went for. I have to say it is an awesome marketing strategy. Then before I know it I’m over in the clothing section because I love to purchase clothes from Target. They always have those simple pieces (with quality) like leather jackets, cardigans, sweaters, tanks, etc. at affordable prices. Now my basket is becoming even more full and I still have not even gone to purchase what I went in for. You get my point here? 

Now enough about my Target obsession, the fact is that Target knows exactly how to Target their ideal customers. The article mentions that Target buys public records which allow them to suggest products to customers in a certain demographic/ life change. The article speaks of pregnant women and how Target starts sending out promotions to them during their second trimester. As a pregnant women, you may not think “how does Target know I am pregnant?” Rather you think, “I’m on a budget, look at all these coupons and cute stuff for the baby!” The article states, “If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you” grab a carton. Oh and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us and keep coming back” (Duhigg 1). The point is, they want to get you in and keep you as a customer.

I know first hand Target buys information from companies because I have experience with it. My sister and I both moved away to college this year. Throughout the summer we received tons of coupons for dorm items and things we may need for school. Since there is two of us, my mom would ask her friends if they received the coupons as well so she could save more money. But, they wouldn’t get those same fliers in the mail rather it would be for something else. For example, my mother’s friends have young children so they may get coupons for promotions for back to school clothing or toy promotions at the holidays. 

The fact that Target buys information to learn about their customer base and keeps track of how we purchase and what we purchase is sort of creepy but in the long run a very smart marketing strategy. If you love Target like I do, it saves you money on the things you need to purchase. But, like I have mentioned they get you in the store and then you end up spending more money.

Professional Twitterverse

I never thought that I would be graded based on using Twitter.  In fact, I was never a fan of Twitter until last year when I decided to cave in when my friends convinced me to get one and said I would become addicted. Almost a year later, I admit I have fallen in love with Twitter as it is a way to just blurt out what you are feeling at any given moment. It is also entertaining, humorous, and a cool way to connect with celebrities or people who you haven’t spoken to for awhile. For this class, we were to create a professional Twitter account or use one we already had. At first, I decided to use my personal Twitter for the assignment but I quickly changed my mind. My personal tweets about adventures in Atlantic City, boyfriend problems, song lyrics, frustrations in my life, among countless other things would get jumbled up in the tweets for the “live readings” and engaging in conversation with classmates. So I decided to enter the professional twitterverse and create another account that I could use to connect with professionals and classmates in the education and writing fields.

So first, we had to “live tweet” as we read through the complex pieces our professor assigned to us. As I did the readings, I read through the Twitter feed to see what my classmates were saying and connected it to what I was feeling about the piece. For example, as I was reading Selfe’s piece I thought of how I am trying to help my mom use modern technology to further help her students. She is a teacher and has found the internet is an easy way to get ideas for lesson plans, art ideas, coloring pages, worksheets, find professional development workshops etc. I also taught her how to use an iPad so she can play music in her classroom without using a CD player and use apps to track her lessons and student’s improvement. Here is my tweet:

We also used live tweeting in this class when we watched videos or used websites the professor gave to us. Here is a brief conversation I had with another classmate about whether video games were beneficial or harmful to children:

So I have to say, live tweeting allowed me to further understand the readings while communicating with other classmates as well as giving me new ideas and opinions of the readings I hadn’t thought of myself.

The second part of the assignment that we had to complete was to tweet at least 3 times per day and speak to the professional twitter community by re-tweeting or replying to them. I found myself switching back and forth between my two twitter accounts and constantly reminding myself that I needed to tweet for this class. I enjoyed reading the articles and thoughts of those in the professional community but with the end of the semester stress I found it hard to remember to tweet. Here is a conversation I had with a professional who talks about “classroom flipping”. A classroom flip is when the student will watch online lectures for homework and the homework will be completed in class. I had a flipped class this semester in math of all things, which I thought would be challenging but it was ultimately beneficial:

I also re-tweeted and mentioned other professionals but I didn’t expect many answers but rather thought of it as getting my thoughts out as a “young professional” in the twitter community. After this module is over, I will continue to occasionally monitor and follow others on my professional account. It is important to keep up with the changes in the education and technology world as a future educator. I enjoyed this assignment because it was a nice break from using my personal twitter and allowed me to learn things I normally wouldn’t using my personal account. Until next time #tfwf13

Are video games better than real life?

Watching the video Are video games better than real life? was eye opening because I did not realize so many people rely on video games to give themselves a sense of identity. Video games are their life and quite frankly their addiction. We all have our addictions, but when does addiction start to shape your reality?

Like the video states, virtual worlds allow you to take a break and step out of the real world and experience something entirely new. Imagine you are having a bad day and you can log in to your virtual world and concentrate on that while the stress you had throughout the day diminishes. Virtual worlds allow you to create characters with no specific rules of what they need to look like. In virtual worlds, you are able to call the shots. You are able to design a person and a world perhaps that you would like to live in. People that are unhappy in their owns lives now have the ability to create and be in the driver’s seat of their virtual life. 

Video games also present themselves to be an addiction to many individuals. Over the years, I have known some video game addicts. They spend their entire days staring at the TV and playing their games while tuning out everything around them. Video games are like escapes from reality. You also want to keep playing to advance to new levels which makes them addicting. Playing all these video games and living in a virtual world may cause you to lose sense of reality around you. 

Video games also can send the wrong messages to children and give them a false sense of reality. Games like Halo that require you to “kill” people in the game give children the wrong idea that these video games are real and that its acceptable to do that. Of course, there are many video games that can actually help children learn and be beneficial to them. But, with all that goes on in the world today; these violent games may cause children and video game players to react to real world situations like they do in the game.

I believe that video games can be beneficial and almost therapeutic to some people who want to escape their real lives for a little while. They can be fun and entertaining and give you a goal to work towards. On the other hand, video games can cause those who play to become addicted and lose sense of what reality truly is. While one day we all may be using virtual worlds and characters, in my opinion video games are not ruling the world of technology yet. But when you want to escape your real life, video games can help you do that. 

Facebook Experiment

I am writing this blog a bit earlier than I should be because I dropped out of the Facebook experiment early. The idea was the entire class go without a form of social media for a weeks time and record their feelings about it. Unfortunately, I cracked during the week we were supposed to stay off Facebook and couldn’t resist logging in. Then I asked myself why did I feel the need to log back in? Why couldn’t I hold out for a week? I use other social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter so why was it hard for me to give up Facebook?

My answers:

Rowan is my new home away from home. This is my first semester as a transfer student from another state university. Being away from home means being away from my friends and family that I love so much. For me, Facebook is a tool that allows me to connect to those I can’t see every day and help me through frequent bouts of homesickness. Looking at my friend’s statuses and being able to communicate with them allows me to feel as if I am still connected to those at home without physically being there. Sometimes, just looking through old photos I have with friends makes me feel closer to home. Of course, I still enjoy using Facebook to catch up or see what others are doing who I haven’t spoken to for awhile. 

I also rely on Facebook for my job. As a spokesmodel, I need to promote the brands I am selling and let my friends know of events that I will be at. Social media as a whole is vital for my job because promotion is all about networking. There isn’t an easier way to network than the internet. 

By not using Facebook for a couple of days, I felt very disconnected from my social life. Sure, I went on Instagram and Twitter but there is something about Facebook that just pulls you in. Not everyone uses or has Instagram or Twitter but almost everyone I know no matter what age has a Facebook. 

I agree with my professor when he said “It’s normal to not be able to complete this experiment.” Facebook is a tool that we all rely on for fulfillment in our social lives. Also there is the psychological aspect knowing that you can’t go on Facebook therefore you want to go on even more to see what you are missing. To close this blog, for those who stuck it out for a week; I give you props. For those like me that caved; we are official Facebook addicts.

Web 2.0 and Identity

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-is-web-20/

What is Web 2.0? This buzzword was introduced in 2003-2004 which surpassed Web 1.0 and was the birthplace of social media. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g which we viewed in class states the point that at one point we were just using the computer but now in Web 2.0 the computer is using us. Remember the myspace days? Little did I know that myspace was one of the first social media sites in the Web 2.0 interface that I used. But what is really interesting about Web 2.0 is that our computer and the internet now know more about our interests and ourselves than ever before.  

For example, I do the majority of my shopping online. I’ll frequently browse the store’s websites to see what is out there before I make a purchase. Then, I’ll start browsing the web for other reasons rather than my shopping addiction. I’m still reminding myself here I don’t need that top, dress, or purse when all of a sudden I see an ad on the corner of the website I am on with the same dress I was debating on purchasing. Yes, the ad on the website is still reminding me I was looking at this item and to purchase it. I’m trying to do school work over here, but thanks to Web 2.0 I am being reminded I need to keep shopping. The ads are being tailored to my likes, interests, and based on what sites I have been visiting.

Web 2.0 even knows your location at all times without even typing it in. This is crucial for me because I travel across the state between home, work, and school. When I am at school, Google realizes I am near Glassboro, NJ and not home in North Jersey. Therefore, I can just type “Target near me” and it will give a map and directions to the nearest Target by my location. My point is that search engines now can almost read your mind and direct you to what you are looking for faster than ever before. If I type in “Row” or “Mont” on google, the first search suggestions I get are Rowan University and Montclair State University. That would not be the case for someone who does not live near, attend, or have searched for these schools in the past. 

It’s kind of freaky to think the web knows almost everything about your identity. It knows who you are, where you are from, what you look like, where you go to school, where you are at a given point, what your interests are, and even where you shop. You can’t hide who you are with Web 2.0, it knows you all too well.

Teaching Literacy Through Technology

While reading Selfe’s piece about technological literacy, I could only think of how much technology is shaping the modern day classroom. Yes, technology is now teaching young children how to read at earlier ages than we were able to as children. iPads are being used in schools across the country to help children learn how to read, write, learn math and even science. My cousin (who is 10 years old) says that every student in his school is given an iPad to use every year. I did a bit of research about popular apps used by children who are learning how to read and write. I concentrated on finding apps for younger students since those are the grade levels I am most interested in teaching.

One app I found is called abcPocketPhonics which costs $2.99 and allows beginning readers in pre-school and kindergarten to trace the letters using their fingers on the pad and plays a recording of the letter and has the child find the letter in a group of letters. Eventually as the child progresses, these letters become words and the app grows with the child’s progress.

Word Magic is even more affordable at only $.99 which shows the child of a picture and the corresponding word (with letters missing) and the child must try to solve the puzzle as to which letters are missing. As the child progresses, the game gets harder and letters can become missing from the beginning, middle, or end of the word.

iWriteWords is an app priced at $2.99 that focuses on handwriting and writing words. The app offers over 70 levels of tracing letters (upper and lower case), 20 levels of number tracing, and 26 levels of individual letter tracing. Children can and most often use their finger with this app but the pen for the iPad can be used to give children a better grasp at using writing utensils.

Finally, Learn to Read! is an app that shows children a word and pronounces it for them which in turn helps with memorization and takes away the need of making hundreds of flash cards by hand containing sight words. The app includes adjectives, prepositions, verbs, adverbs, etc. and can be used by pre-schoolers to second graders based on level.

Of course, once children master the art of reading and writing they can always use a Kindle or Nook to read full chapter books or access textbooks for class. Selfe’s essay shows that technology will only be continued to be used at a faster pace in the classroom in years to come. As future teachers, we must continue to learn about these new technologies because we we be using them in our classrooms.